|TRENTON – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa today announced that a former owner/pharmacy technician has pleaded guilty to defrauding Medicaid through a prescription medication buyback scheme.
Venkata Thottempudi, 44, of Edison, pleaded guilty on Monday (July 30) to an accusation charging him with third-degree Medicaid fraud before Superior Court Judge Michael L. Ravin in Essex County.
In pleading guilty, Thottempudi, the former pharmacy owner of One Stop Pharmacy who also worked as a licensed pharmacy technician at that pharmacy during the time of the crime, admitted that between Feb. 1 and Dec. 6, 2011, he bought back expensive prescription medications at a discounted price after they were dispensed to Medicaid beneficiaries. These medications were typically prescribed for HIV/AIDS treatment. Thottempudi admitted that he billed Medicaid as if the beneficiaries had, in fact, received the medications. An investigation determined that Medicaid was billed significantly more than Thottempudi paid the beneficiaries for the medications.
Judge Ravin scheduled sentencing for Sept. 14. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Thottempudi be sentenced to three years of probation. Thottempudi also agreed to enter into a consent order to pay $400,000 in restitution.
Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Ronald Chillemi noted that Thottempudi’s co-defendant Denise Roman-Cisse, 28, of Newark, a licensed pharmacy technician who worked at One Stop Pharmacy at the time of the crime, was sentenced on March 19 to one year of probation after pleading guilty to health care claims fraud for her role in the fraud.
Deputy Attorney Generals Nicole Rizzolo, Chief of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, and David Noble, Lt. Vincent Gaeta and Detective Danielle Han were assigned to the investigation. The Office of the State Comptroller, Medicaid Fraud Division, also assisted in the investigation. Acting Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Chillemi thanked the Office of the State Comptroller for referring the matter to the Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor.